Floor Goals {Parquet}

Author: Lolly Gautier-Ollerenshaw

If you read Lauren’s post yesterday then you’ll already be aware that this week marks seven days of a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ theme here on RMS.

Like Lauren and her husband James, Ste and I renovated our entire first house ourselves from scratch even including a reclaimed parquet floor that we bought for the bargainous total of £200 on eBay and which we restored and laid lovingly piece by piece in a herringbone pattern on the ground floor. Despite Ste’s protestations that he would never ever do it again (the floor that is not the general renovation side of things) I’ve managed to persuade him to recreate the look in our new house which you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the next few weeks.

If you’ve been following my refurb journey on these pages then you’ll know that Ste and I bought a three bed semi-detached 1920s property on the Bournville Village Trust some time ago now and stripped it right back to brick. At one stage you could stand in the hallway and see all the way through the house to the rafters in the roof. There was a point when I thought it would never be finished but I’m happy to say that the whole of the upstairs is now plastered apart from two walls for plumbing purposes and Ste has given the nod for me to start purchasing radiators and baths, shower valves and taps. Who knew a girl could get so excited about scoring a toilet bargain in the sales!

Anyway I digress, today’s post, inspired by a Hertfordshire based company, is all about DIY…specifically parquet floors and our tips and tricks that we took away from installing our very own reclaimed tiles over five years ago. I should caveat that this is not a step by step guide on how to lay such a floor (google is your best bet for this) but more the sharing of my experience of doing so and the lessons I want to pass onto others attempting to do the same thing. I’ve tried to break these down into bullet points but I apologise if this post is a little long-winded.

  • 1. Decide what type of parquet floor you want; this sounds ridiculous but the choices are endless. Reclaimed or new blocks? Oak or ash? Lacquered or oiled? Small blocks or large? The options available can seem a bit daunting at first so my recommendation would be to pin those images that make your heart beat a little faster onto a dedicated Pinterest board (or equally ripped out pictures in a scrapbook would do equally as well). Once you’ve collected a few images a common theme should emerge; be strict with yourself however…only those truly amazing floor layouts should make the cut.
  • 2. Preparation is paramount. Ste has acquiesced to a parquet floor in our new house on the condition that we buy new blocks only. Our last floor was reclaimed but we spent hours scraping the bitumen (used as an adhesive in days of old!) off the back of the oak tiles. This was partly because bitumen is carcinogenic and partly so that we had a smooth surface to lay our blocks on. We also had to hire a planer to ensure the backs were really smooth. What will you be laying onto? Have you considered an expansion gap in case the floor expands/moves? Make sure you take the time and labour costs into consideration if you do go down the reclaimed route. Will it be worth it for you?
  • 3. Old and new is just one consideration. Do you want long blocks of parquet or smaller brick sized shapes? What about your finish? Obviously the associated costs will have an impact on this…I know I have champagne tastes on a prosecco budget but I am prepared to shop around for the best deal even if it means staying up until midnight researching whilst Hector is in bed asleep.
  • 4. Invest in the best adhesive you can afford to buy. This was probably the most expensive part of our DIY efforts but a decision I’m so glad we chose not to skimp on. And if you don’t own a mitre saw (to cut the blocks) or a planer then it’s worth borrowing off a friend to keep costs down if possible.
  • 5. Research, research and research again. We must have googled a million different herringbone parquet tutorials before we began to lay the floor and laid it out carefully before any glue was applied. We sighted with a string line, which is essential really. The first two courses – the soldier course – should be left for a day or two to dry, then your subsequent courses can be added later knowing that your floor won’t run out of alignment. This prevented any expensive mistakes being made and the floor looking skewiff. Use the Polished Concrete Near Me option to find a company that can help you with your flooring projects
  • 6. Be prepared to spend hours prepping and laying if you decide to DIY the floor yourself particularly if you’re opting for reclaimed blocks and if you have a large surface area. It’s also worth taking the time to pre-sort the blocks before laying them – discarding those that are damaged or noticeably bigger/smaller than the rest.
  • 7. Consider calling in the professionals for the finishing touches. We decided that paying £500 for having the floor sanded and varnished (with a clear satin finish) by a dedicated parquet professional was worth every penny. We just didn’t trust ourselves to not f**k up all our hard work in one fell swoop. Plus Ste had just about reached the end of his tether with the floor by that stage.

So I guess you might be wondering what the gallery of super beautiful images is about above? Well that’s the look that I’m hoping to achieve in our new kitchen and hallway. We’ve decided a pale hue would work best with our intended dark cupboard colour scheme and we feel the large blocks as opposed to the smaller brick shaped designs would look most effective. And of course we’ll be opting for a herringbone layout. That said I am struggling with trying to decide on what type of wood to use? Oak can take on a slightly yellowy hue once a finishing product/sealant is applied to it and that’s something I’m keen to avoid. If there are any wood specialists amongst you then I’m very keen to hear your thoughts.

Have any of you laid a parquet floor? Or intending to? Perhaps you’ve inherited one instead; if so I’m so incredibly jealous. Why not share your thoughts in the comments below…


Header image via Trunk Surfaces

Author: Lolly
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.
Follow Lolly on instagram @graceandgable
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33 thoughts on “Floor Goals {Parquet}

  1. I was hoping to inherit parquet… all the other houses on the street have them… but no, we just have concrete under our green swirly carpets ?

    1. Same Maxine! We had some mad patterns in cerise and green and even purple and I was hoping beyond hope we’d reveal some gorgeous tiles or some parquet. No such luck. The best we got was dodgy floorboards!

  2. Parquet is gorgeous and I love the images but it all sounds like too much work for me! I’m happy with wooden floor as it comes, or stone flooring.

    Did score all our new bathroom kit for a bargain price at the weekend though, including a travertine basin at half price- the stone is so lush.

    1. It’s ace when you score a bargain isn’t it Lucy. I got our toilets at half price and I was over the moon. I’m officially old. We also had travertine in our previous house and it’s such a beautiful finish!

    1. I really really hope so Lauren. Ste gave me a bit of a talking to yesterday on budgets and spending! Hoping he doesn’t start putting restrictions in place….eeeek. I told him a quality floor is a must and it’s all about cost per wear 😉

  3. Never wanted parquet before but now it’s an absolute essential. RMS, you’re going to be dangerous this year, I can just tell… x

    1. Always an essential Sian 😉
      We apologise profusely in advance for any dirty enabling that may ensue this year….

  4. I love parquet and think it can work well in any period of house, including modern. I am hoping to be able to put it down in the ground floor of our new project, a modern Dutch barn in Shropshire. Sadly it’s to sell not live in though I am in danger of not wanting to sell it on! The oversize are the style I prefer too, and love the limed Oak. I guess you can just use lime on the flooring to achieve that look? If it’s sealed properly.

    1. I completely agree Victoria – parquet suits all schemes! Your modern Dutch barn sounds amazing! Can we see pictures??

      1. It’s not much to look at at the moment! Development commences spring! It’s the most exciting thing with a luxe family house being the brief… going mad on Pinterest!

  5. We have parquet in the hall of our house that we bought last June. It’s all faded where previous occupants had rugs on it (why?!!) and when we first moved in we started getting quotes from specialist to revive it. That was untill when removing the carpet gripper rod’s that held the hideous 70’s floral carpet on the stairs my husband managed to scratch the parquet! So we decided that given the amount of other work we want to do which includes ripping out a shower room off the hallway the restoration of the parquet would have to wait till the end!!

    1. First things first…you’re so lucky Sandra! I had dreams of inheriting parquet but it wasn’t to be. And I never understood why people want to cover it up. I think although frustrating as it may be in the short-term it is probably best to wait for all the other work to be completed before restoring the parquet in case it gets damaged in the process. I’m desperate to get a new drive installed at our new house but given all the plumbing work that still needs to take place and the downstairs plaster boarding it would be silly to do so until all the messy work is out of the way. Good things come to those who wait….

  6. I’ve been whiling away a few hours on the research too Lolly as we’re doing our kitchen next month and I’m hoping to go with large pieces to get the statement floor. Our house is listed and old (#oldmanseproject on insta) so I think It look great. I like the lighter tones too but husband keen on oak – and as it’s for our kitchen diner we are getting engineered wood to allow for the heat & moisture situ. Hoping to later match the look in our lounge and get rid of the hideous blue carpet.

    1. Sarah your house is AMAZING!!! The outside is an absolute vision! Can’t wait to hear more about your decorating adventures!

      1. Oooh thanks Lolly it is a pretty one – although being in the Scottish highlands it isn’t the warmest and lots of work to do around that. Looking forward more house reveals from you too.

  7. Oh those photos are gorgeous! We’re hoping to lay parquet in our living and dining rooms; we’ve just bought a Victorian school master’s cottage next door to the in-laws which we’re renovating and when the school over the road closed my FIL managed to salvage all of the parquet tiles which were the school gym floor which the in-laws have use in their house. BUT they still have a huge stack of tiles in the garage which we’re hoping will be enough for us! We’ve got to dig up and concrete the floors first though so it’ll be a big project.

    1. Amy our reclaimed floor was also a school gym! I love the idea that the parquet floor from the school will be reused in the schoolmaster’s cottage; it seems fitting somehow. It is a big project but the finished result will look amazing!

  8. I’m probably going to get shouted at here but we took our parquet up! Terrible I know. When we bought our Victorian semi I was overjoyed that it had a beautiful Parquet all through the hallway, I loved it. Sadly, after a few years of constant workmen tromping through it had seen better days. The crunch came when a then crawling Molly appeared covered in thick black all over her hands and knees. I discovered she had decided to play jigsaw puzzles with the loose parquet which was not good. We had about a year of various parts of the floor being held together with duct tape (not a good look) whilst we decided what to do. It gradually got looser and was wobbling all over. It wasn’t in the greatest condition and relaying it would have cost just as much as a new floor. In the end we made the decision to match the Karndean we had had fitted in the kitchen so that it flowed through. I never thought I’d be choosing vinyl over parquet but I have to say it was the best option for us and half the price. I can mop the hell out it, the girls can ride their scooters and I really don’t care. Maybe one day I will have my beloved parquet back. Especially after seeing these pictures! x

  9. So beautiful! Parquet flooring is the dream! I wish I had enough patience (or a husband with enough patience!!) to do it!

    So jealous of people that find things like this under grubby old carpets – that would literally make me the happiest person ever! x

    1. I’m very lucky Kate in that Ste has his own construction company so we have oodles of tools at our disposal. I ask for something, Ste provides the brains and manpower and I learn along the way so everyone is a winner! That said I think I’ve pushed him to his limit with this house and I doubt very much he’s going to want to do much DIY once it’s finished.

  10. I’m so impressed that you laid parquet in your first home yourselves! Love your inspiration here.
    My husband and I moved into our fixer-upper on the 21st December and, I’m not gonna lie, one of the selling points was the parquet flooring!
    It has been stained quite dark, but I’m hoping we can sand it down and use a different treatment to lighten up the room.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your house come together!

    1. SO so jealous Kate of your original parquet! In most cases the wood should be quite thick so you should be able to sand the parquet down and get back to the original colour of the wood. Keep us updated on your progress!

  11. I love reclaimed parquet floors, particularly hard woods like iroko and mahogany – your old reclaimed gym floor sounds a dream! However we didn’t have the dedication to strip bitumen, grade blocks and sand so we opted for a new ‘vintage’ style merbau parquet, which my husband laid. All the blocks were lightly tumbled so they had slightly rounded edges and once laid it didn’t need sanding, just a few quick coats of oil. I was quite sceptical about how ‘authentic’ it would look and how level it would be without sanding, but am so impressed – it has the vintage look without all the effort and it is level! Can’t wait to see your house finished x

    1. Ahhhh thank you Emma. I really hope it is as exciting as everyone expects it to be. Last night I had a bit of a wobble about ridiculous things such as bookcases! Talk about first world problems! Your floor sounds amazing and I take my hat off to you for finding something that looks authentic without all the mess and long hours; it’s not something I could do with a toddler in tow these days!

      1. It will be gorgeous and wobbles are inevitable especially when all you probably want to do is get it finished, but I know what you mean about the pressure – I work in restaurant design and everyone kept saying they couldn’t wait to see out house. I think people were impressed in the end but you never know 😉 Good luck x

  12. This is a very timely piece! Currently finalising details to begin a huge extension and refurbing existing parts of the house and as part I’m after parquet throughout most of the downstairs, hallway through to kitchen then playroom/snug. However I’ve discovered we can’t have solid wood because we intend to fit underfloor heating so we will have to opt for engineered wood, so it’ll be more parquet ‘style’ but this does make it a darn sight cheaper!! And seeing as there is no way I’ll persuade the other half to fit it ourselves I think it is our only affordable option anyway.
    The samples I’ve received are a little disappointing so far as they come unfinished and trying to achieve the rich tan like finish I’m after isn’t easy to envisage, I think I’ll have to go back and ask them to coat them in various oils and lacquers to truly make a decision. Good luck with your project, it sounds exciting and I’ll be following intently….

    1. Hi Hayley, do you have a link to the kind of engineered wood you will be using? I’ve looked at Parquet for our hallway previously and think it’s beautiful but it’s out of our price range unless we find any cheapish reclaimed nearby (fingers crossed!). This sounds like it could be the perfect solution!

      1. Hi,

        No probs, I haven’t shopped around a lot yet but so far I’ve found Sarah at the Solid Wood Flooring Co to be very helpful! I have found this one https://www.thesolidwoodflooringcompany.com/unfinished-oak-90mm-parquet-easyfit101.html which works out to £27.66 per sq meter, which seems great but obviously the fitting will really bump that up!!
        I like this but is far too dark for our house https://www.thesolidwoodflooringcompany.com/uv-oiled-antique-fumed-oak-parquet-flooring-e956.html plus is £53.06 at sq meter!!

        Hope this helps x

  13. Hi, months on and I found your post. So I too have gone through the pains of laying a reclaimed parquet floor. Got an absolute bargain (twice) on EBay for teak tiles. I learnt soooooo much laying these in my living room and also kitchen. My only now wobble is that I should have kept the finishes the same. Living room has oil so has a lovely rich hone and the kitchen has a vanish which is a bit lighter. Something to sort out next year
    One thing I would say about the bitumen is if it’s not overly think it can be laid directly on with the glue. Main trouble points were cutting the wood and corners. Teak is such a hard wood I had to get special blades and went through a many of them. I also sanded it using a trio sander (3 orbits ) that’s perfect for parquet due to the multi directions.

    So a year on and I’ve decided to go at it again for my daughters room, a grown up affair as she’s 18 and in the 1st year of uni. But considering solid or engineered, chevron and if not that then definitely a longer tile and new. Finish wise it’ll be lighter than downstairs and a white oil put on to bring it up a bit. This time around I’ll be making sure my husband helps this time around.
    It’s such a hard decision to make.

  14. Hello,
    Do you mind telling me the colour of the paint on stairs ,skirting and walls in hallway please ?

  15. Awesome! A wide collection of Parquet Flooring, and help to decide on what type of wood flooring to use. Thank you so much.

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